Zac Brown Band are in the midst of their 2018 Down the Rabbit Hole Live Tour where their nightly set list spans a decade of chart toppers. Time and time again, Zac Brown Band prove to be adept musicians who know their audience and constantly deliver on each single. Since 2009, the band has sold more than 8 million records and over 25 million singles. Having amassed 15 No. 1 singles, their music continues to reach a wide audience and inspire others with heartfelt lyrics and stand-out musicianship. This month, we look back at the 10 most memorable songs from the band’s career.
“Chicken Fried” — from The Foundation
Their signature song, the feel-good “Chicken Fried,” was Zac Brown Band’s introduction at country radio. “Chicken Fried” was the band’s debut single and first No. 1 hit off their 2008 major-label debut, The Foundation. The group originally featured it on their 2005 self-released Home Grown album, where the Lost Trailers heard it and asked Zac Brown if they could record it for their own project. Brown said they could have it under one condition: they didn’t release it as a single. The following year, Brown turned on the radio to hear the Lost Trailers’ cover of his song. A cease-and-desist letter was issued and the single was pulled from radio. In 2008, ZBB released the song themselves and since then, “Chicken Fried” has been certified 5x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
“Whatever It Is” — from The Foundation
This sweet ballad, written by Brown and Wyatt Durrette, showcases the singer’s sentimental side. The follow-up single to their breakthrough hit, on “Whatever It Is” the band demonstrates their ability at switching gears from the upbeat fun songs to the soaring ballads about lifetime commitment. The song’s heartfelt lyrics alongside delicate fiddle accompaniment and acoustic instrumentation made “Whatever It Is” an obvious wedding song of 2009.
“Toes” — from The Foundation
It doesn’t quite seem like summer until “Toes” is blasted at the pool, lake or beach. Brown’s smooth vocals further sets the mood on the infectious song that transports listeners to the islands. “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand / Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand / Life is good today, life is good today,” he croons. An obvious fan favorite, this concert staple rose to No. 1 in 2009.
“Highway 20 Ride” — from The Foundation
The heartfelt “Highway 20 Ride” tells the tale of a divorced man having to make trips every other weekend to drop his son off to his ex-wife at the Georgia line. As he reflects on his life and counts the days until their next visit, he wonders how his child will perceive him in the future. While he hopes his son will smile when his father crosses his mind, he also wishes that in time he’ll understand that their drives together were some of his favorite moments. “It was a pleasure of my life / And I cherished every time / And my whole world, it begins and ends with you / On that Highway 20 ride,” Brown sings alongside soaring instrumentals.
“As She’s Walking Away” — from You Get What You Give
This Grammy Award-winning No. 1 single features Alan Jackson. Inspired by a night out in Orlando where Durette was entranced by a beautiful girl at the bar, the songwriter tells The Boot that while the woman had a boyfriend with her, it didn’t stop her from looking his way. “All night, she stared at me, and I was looking at her,” he admits. “She was a beautiful girl, but she had her boyfriend with her, so I obviously wasn’t going to say or do anything. We kind of spoke all night from across the room but didn’t say anything to each other.” When Durette left the bar with Brown, he didn’t say anything to her and that’s when the line, “I’m falling in love as she’s walking away” hit him. On the track, Jackson portrays an older and wiser man who is giving advice to Brown: “You might fall down on your face / Roll the dice and have some faith / And don’t be falling in love as she’s walking away,” he sings.
“Colder Weather” — from You Get What You Give
A heartbreaking piano ballad, “Colder Weather” tells the story of a trucker who is forced to leave behind a girl he loves. Throughout his travels, he sees her in the people he meets. All the while, he looks back fondly on their time together and is hopeful about the day they’ll be reunited. “It’s a shame about the weather / But I know soon we’ll be together / And I can’t wait ’till then,” Brown sings at the song’s close. The second single off You Get What You Give, “Colder Weather” went on to top the charts and become certified 2x Platinum.
“Knee Deep” — from You Get What You Give
With countless comparisons to Jimmy Buffett over the years, it was only fitting that Zac Brown Band team up with the singer on the laidback jam “Knee Deep.” Also a No. 1 hit for the band, “Knee Deep” has Brown leaving the world behind as he escapes to the ocean after a breakup. “Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair,” he croons. With plenty of mandolin and some whistling, it’s another summer jam reminiscent to previous chart topper, “Toes.”
“Goodbye In Her Eyes” — from Uncaged
Brown’s ability as a vocalist is highlighted throughout “Goodbye In Her Eyes,” as is the band’s striking harmonies. Singing of knowing the end of a relationship is near, the powerful production on “Goodbye In Her Eyes” elevates the intensity of the heartbreak within the song. With added fiddle accompaniment, memorable percussion and soaring guitar parts, Zac Brown Band’s expertise is further showcased throughout the five-minute track.
“Sweet Annie” — from Uncaged
The fourth and final single off 2012’s Uncaged, “Sweet Annie” has a man used to life on the road trying to convince a woman that he’s ready to slow things down and be with her. Asking if he can stay with her for a while and hoping she won’t give up on him, it’s a sentiment that country fans resonated with as the track rose to No. 1 on the country charts.
“Homegrown” — from Jekyll + Hyde
The lead single off their musically adventurous 2015 release Jekyll + Hyde, “Homegrown” demonstrates Zac Brown Band’s country roots. While the album itself was an impressive blend of country, pop, rock, and even EDM elements, on “Homegrown” the band lets longtime fans know that despite their various influences their feet are still planted firmly in the country genre.